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Elson Lecture Series 2018: Janine Antoni

Janine Antoni (b. 1964, Freeport, Bahamas) received her BA in 1986 from Sarah Lawrence College in New York before earning her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. In the early 1990s, she began to perform mundane rituals—eating, sleeping, and washing—and transformed them into sculptures, centering attention on creative processes. Over a nearly 30-year career, her conceptual works have utilized an expansive variety of materials (from food to stone) and mediums (including photography, solo and collaborative performance, sculpture, and video) to emphasize the meanings attached to art-making. In 1993, Antoni created Lick and Lather, a set of 14 self-portrait busts, seven in chocolate and seven in soap. Initially the busts looked identical to each other, and to Antoni, until the artist licked the chocolate busts and bathed with the soap, effacing them to create a collective portrait of artistic presence and absence, likeness and alienation. Lick and Lather also reflects on the history of representation: the chocolate and soap recall both the classical bronze and marble sculptures of antiquity and the variable nature of cast sculpture, all while questioning ideals of female beauty and desire. The set of Lick and Lather at the National Gallery of Art, the only iteration of the project that features all fourteen busts, comprises the fullest picture of Antoni’s concept. On March 1, 2018, as part of the Elson Lecture Series, Antoni discusses her career and latest projects.